The remains of a wooden ship and pottery possibly dating from the seventh century have been discovered off the coast of Koh Sdech island in Koh Kong province, officials said Wednesday.
Cambodian naval divers discovered the remains of a sunken sail ship and a range of pottery in late February in 20-to-30-meter-deep waters off the island, which is located roughly 5 km from the Koh Kong coast in Kirisakor district.
Samples of the pottery were taken to the provincial department of culture and then sent on March 2 to the National Museum in Phnom Penh for analysis, said Ministry of Culture Secretary of State Chuch Phoeun.
Chuch Phoeun said the pottery may date to the seventh century and that it appeared similar in style to pottery of the pre-Angkorian Nokor Phnom era, in what is now southern Vietnam.
Two items also discovered on the sea floor are believed to date from the 14th and 15th centuries, he said.
It is unclear if the remains of the ship have any relationship to the pottery, Chuch Phoeun said, adding that he has not yet seen photographs or samples of wood from the vessel.
After the discovery, Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered the formation of a mixed committee of police and military to prevent the plunder of the site’s artifacts, Chuch Phoeun said.
Hab Touch, deputy director of the National Museum, said the style of the pottery brought from Koh Kong, which included plates, pots, bowls, jugs and jars, indicates that the items are Angkorian or pre-Angkorian.
However, positively identifying the period has been hampered by the poor condition in which the pottery was found, he said.
“They were covered with dead sea snails, shells and clams and covered with moss,” Hab Touch said.
“We cannot see the carving in detail,” he said, adding that the hoped the committee would protect the site while the museum works to identify the artifacts.
Tuon Pisey, deputy provincial police chief, said border police and RCAF marines have secured the site where the ship was found.
“We are patrolling the area day and night to defend it,” he said.